(02) 8677 8092
Children’s Involvement In Family Law Proceedings
The Family Law Act specifically requires the court to regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration when making parenting orders

Children's Court

The Children’s Court in New South Wales (NSW) is a specialized court system that deals with cases involving children and young people who are under the age of 18. It operates under the Children’s Court Act 1987 and is designed to address legal matters concerning children in a manner that is sensitive to their unique needs and circumstances.

The primary objective of the Children’s Court is to ensure the best interests of the child are met while also promoting their welfare and rehabilitation. The court handles a wide range of cases, including child protection matters, criminal offenses committed by children, and issues related to custody, guardianship, and access.

Here are some key aspects of the Children’s Court in NSW:

1. Jurisdiction: The Children’s Court has jurisdiction over matters involving children and young people up to the age of 18. It has both criminal and care jurisdiction, meaning it handles cases related to child protection and criminal offenses committed by children.

2. Divisions: The Children’s Court consists of two main divisions: the Care and Protection Division and the Criminal Division. The Care and Protection Division focuses on child protection matters, such as cases of neglect, abuse, or the need for care orders. The Criminal Division deals with criminal offenses committed by children, including bail applications, hearings, and sentencing.

3. Informality: The Children’s Court aims to create a more informal and less intimidating environment compared to adult courts. This approach recognizes the vulnerability and unique needs of children and young people. Judges and magistrates in the Children’s Court are trained to communicate and engage with children effectively.

4. Privacy and Confidentiality: The court proceedings in the Children’s Court are usually closed to the public to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the child involved. Only individuals directly related to the case, such as parents, legal representatives, and authorized personnel, are allowed to attend the hearings.

5. Specialist Support: The Children’s Court provides access to various support services for children and young people who appear before the court. These services include legal aid, counseling, and other resources to assist in their welfare, rehabilitation, and overall well-being.

6. Rehabilitation Focus: The Children’s Court emphasizes the rehabilitation and reintegration of young offenders. It aims to address the underlying causes of their behavior and provide appropriate support to prevent reoffending. Sentences imposed by the court may include community-based orders, counseling, or other rehabilitative measures tailored to the needs of the child.

It’s important to note that the information provided here is a general overview, and specific processes and procedures may vary in different cases and jurisdictions within NSW. If you require detailed information or assistance related to a specific Children’s Court matter, it is recommended to consult with a legal professional or refer to the relevant legislation and guidelines.

Best Interests Principle

Children’s involvement in family law proceedings refers to the participation and consideration of children’s views, interests, and well-being in legal matters related to their parents’ separation or divorce. In Australia, including New South Wales (NSW), the involvement of children in family law proceedings is guided by the best interests principle, which prioritizes the well-being and welfare of the child above all other considerations.

The best interests principle is enshrined in the Family Law Act 1975, which provides the legislative framework for family law matters in Australia. Here are key aspects to understand:

1. Best Interests Principle: The best interests of the child is the paramount consideration in family law matters. This means that decisions made by the court should be aimed at promoting and protecting the child’s well-being, safety, and development.

2. Child’s Views: The court recognizes that children have the right to have their views heard and considered in matters that affect them. The weight given to a child’s views depends on their age, maturity, and level of understanding. Older children and teenagers generally have more weight given to their views compared to younger children.

3. Independent Representation: In some cases, particularly complex or contentious ones, the court may appoint an independent lawyer to represent the child’s interests. This lawyer acts solely in the best interests of the child and presents their views and wishes to the court.

4. Child-Inclusive Processes: The court encourages child-inclusive processes, which involve directly engaging children in the decision-making process. This can be done through family consultants or child specialists who facilitate discussions with the child, providing them with a voice and an opportunity to express their views and concerns.

5. Parental Responsibility: The court considers the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs, maintain a meaningful relationship with the child, and promote their overall well-being. The court encourages parents to prioritize co-parenting, shared responsibilities, and cooperation to meet the child’s best interests.

6. Safety Considerations: The court gives utmost importance to the safety and protection of the child. If there are concerns about family violence, abuse, neglect, or other risks to the child’s well-being, the court will take appropriate measures to ensure their safety, including considering supervised contact or limiting contact with a parent.

7. Dispute Resolution: The court encourages parents to explore alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or negotiation, to resolve family law matters outside of court. These processes can be beneficial in addressing issues amicably and focusing on the best interests of the child.

It’s important to note that the specific application of the best interests principle may vary based on the circumstances of each case. Family law matters are complex, and legal advice from a qualified family law professional is recommended to navigate the intricacies of the law and ensure the best interests of the child are appropriately addressed.

Other Services